Write up - 2009 - Jaguar Manoeuverability Competition

John Brewster’s eagerly awaited Fun Driving Skills day finally arrived and there was an interesting selection of cars assembled at Hamworthy Sports & Social Club waiting for the off. John, having driven over from over from his home in Chalden Herring in completely the wrong direction to distribute the route directions and was busy handing them out when we arrived. When I glanced at the route, I could have sat at the end of my drive and waited for the cars to pass and joined on the end. The route ran through Corfe Mullen, up Rushall Lane, through Lytchett Matravers and descended down onto the A35 towards Bere Regis. We had decided to bring Oska in the XJS and because it was reasonably warm we had the top down, but I’m not sure he was entirely comfortable with this. He is such a ‘wuss’, he did not like the traffic whizzing by, but fortunately he is a dog that likes to lay down when he travels in the car and soon settled down.


On approaching Weymouth and with Tom & Shelia Porteus following in his XJS, I decided to avoid the centre of Weymouth and cut across to the Dorchester road. This definitely a good move as we were the first to arrive at Portland Bill even though we were the last to leave. The weather was being very kind to us with lots of sun shine and only a very light, warm wind, it was very pleasant sitting outside eating our prawn, salad sandwiches.


Unfortunately Brian and Cynthia E-Type had mechanical trouble in Weymouth so had decided to return home, unfortunately there was no phone signal at the end of Portland Bill, but we made contact as soon as we reached the Prison. The ‘Fun Driving Skills Test’ took place at the Verne Prison car park and was being conducted by the Dorset Branch of the Institute of Advanced Motorist and we had six Jaguars and Sally’s dad in his Vauxhall, taking part. The test lasted about ten minutes for each car and the first exercise was to try and line up your front bumper with a traffic cone, then a slalom and then lining up your rear bumper to another cone. This was then followed by a timed figure of eight with a tennis ball balanced on a lipped tea tray on top of your bonnet and obviously you would lose points if you lost the tennis ball.


This was followed by reversing into a garage situation between cones and you then had to indicate at what distance to set two barriers which were sat next to you. You then had to drive into the space you had chosen, the tighter the fit, the more points you were awarded.


The last exercise was a reverse figure of eight to starting and finishing as close as you could to a plastic post with a tennis ball perched on top to your nearside front wheel. This was a very difficult exercise because the height of the post had been set under your window level. There was also a distance, speed and stopping estimation test and that finally rounded off the test. John took part in the test but ruled himself out of the competition, but said he wouldn’t have won anyway. The overall winner was Michael Lane in his E-Type. Which was a surprise because with a poor turning circle, no power steering and 18 inches of bonnet you cannot see, an E-Type would not be the car of choice for such a test, well done Mike.


Many thanks must go to the guys and girls of the Advanced Institute of Motorists for giving up their time and of course to John Brewster for organising the event. I am sure everyone enjoyed being put to the test and it really was a good bit of fun. Oska was pretty tired as he had not had a sleep all day, so we put the hood up and he slept all the way home.


Somehow, a Ford managed to get on without anyone noticing:


Not all of us travelled to th e Verne by car (and no, I don't mean some came by HMPS transport):


Words: Barry Heath
Images: Barry Heath & Matthew Ames

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